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April 1, 2002  (Hervey Bay, Australia)

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A Saturday Cruise Through The Whitsunday Islands

After strolling around Airlie Beach for a while and trying not to ogle all the beautiful, young women who had descended on this town at the beginning of Easter weekend, I walked into the Tourist Information center on the main street.  Just about every town in Australia and New Zealand has a Tourist Information place, marked with a huge letter "i," and they're a great source of information for what to do in that area.  They also make bookings for free, they have tons of brochures, and if you don't have an AA motel guide, which is a must-have for every visitor to Australia, they're a good place to compare motel rates.  


As you can imagine, the Aussie group, The Little River Band, is pretty popular here in Australia.  I never saw the Little River, but I did hear their music a lot on the radio.  Here's Lady.

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Speaking of motel rates, this is towards the end of "The Wet" (i.e., the summer monsoon season) here in northeastern Australia, so it's still the off-season.  One nice thing about visiting during the The Wet is that motels often have so-called "stand-by" rates that are sometimes as much as 60% less than the standard "book rate," the rate you'd pay if you made a reservation.  You can get a nice motel room on the northeastern coast at this time of year for about US$35 a night, instead of paying over twice that during the peak season, which lasts from May through September.


I hadn't done any scuba diving yet in the Great Barrier Reef, so I booked a scuba diving trip the next morning.  Unfortunately, when I got down to the dock the next morning, I learned that the trip was cancelled, so I settled on an all-day island-hopping trip through the beautiful Whitsundays.  I've posted some photos of my day-trip through the Whitsundays below.  The Whitsunday Islands are absolutely beautiful, and I'll definitely come back here the next time I visit Australia.


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Above left:  Shute Harbor is on the northern coast, just a few miles from Airlie Beach.  I hopped on a boat here for a day-tour of the Whitsunday Islands and got a glimpse into the lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Above center:  My first stop that day was on Long Island, the first of three islands I visited.

Above right:  The Club Croc resort on Long Island. 


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Above left:  A palm tree.  Duh.

Above center:  Sailing on Happy Bay (yes, that's really its name) at the Club Croc resort.

Above right:  After a few hours at Club Croc, I headed over to South Molle Island, another resort in the Whitsunday Islands.  Here's the pier.


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Above left:  The 9-hole golf course on South Molle.  Of the three resorts I visited this day, South Molle was my favorite.  For "only" US$150 a night, you too can stay here.

Above center:  I kicked back here under a palm tree for an hour with a cold drink...

Above right:  ...then hopped on another water taxi....


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Above left:  ...and headed over to Daydream Island.  That's my boat tied up to the dock.

Above center:  The swimming pool at Daydream Island.  Daydream Island was pretty hoity-toity and stuffy, so I didn't linger here too long.

Above right:  A tourist near Daydream Island died of jellyfish stings during the previous week.  Here's a stinger sign and a bottle of vinegar.  Nope, I didn't go swimming.


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Left:  Beachfront rooms on Daydream.  Time to head back to Airlie Beach.  I had a great day cruising through the Whitsunday Islands... and all for only $20.



Hervey Bay and Fraser Island

I continued my leisurely drive down the eastern coast the next morning and late that afternoon pulled into Rockhampton, a pleasant inland city with a population of 50,000, referred to by the locals as "Rocky."  After getting a room at the very nice Dreamtime Motel on the outskirts of town, I headed into Rocky to get some groceries.  I quickly learned, though, that since this was Easter Sunday, all the grocery stores were closed.  In fact, just about everything was closed in Rocky -- and just about everywhere else in Australia -- except motels and gas stations.  As the gas station attendant told me, things would remain closed through Tuesday morning, so I stocked up on his "scrumptious" selection of pretzels, Pepsi, and beef jerky.  It wasn't exactly gourmet food, but it was enough to tide me over for a few days.


The next day, I headed down the coast to the city of Hervey Bay.  The first thing you learn about Hervey Bay is that it's pronounced "Harvey," like that 1950s Jimmy Stewart movie about the invisible rabbit.  The second thing you learn about Hervey Bay is that, for better or worse -- mostly worse -- the city is a continuous strip of restaurants and motels, reminiscent of so many bland American cities.  During the past four months, I guess I'd gotten spoiled by the pleasantly compact and pedestrian-friendly layout of Australian and New Zealand cities.  Hervey Bay was an unpleasant reminder of what I could expect in a few weeks when I returned to the U.S.


The reason I was in Hervey Bay, though, wasn't to see Hervey Bay.  Instead, I wanted to visit Fraser Island, which is just offshore and about an hour-long ferry ride away.  I'd heard lots of good things about Fraser Island and it's a very popular vacation destination.  At 75 miles in length, Fraser is the world's largest sand island and there are no roads on it.  You absolutely have to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get around Fraser Island, but if you don't happen to have one, you can rent one for about $50 a day or go on a 4WD bus day-trip tour, which is what I did.


Based on every thing I'd heard about Fraser Island, I had really high hopes.  Maybe it was because it was Easter weekend and it was crowded, maybe it was because I was on a bus tour with 50 strangers... I don't know what it was, but I really wasn't that impressed with Fraser Island.  Frankly, there are lots of places in the U.S., like Cumberland Island in Georgia, that are more interesting.  Still, it's worth a visit if you're heading down the coast.


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Above left:  Lawn bowling is big in the Land of Oz.  White attire required, of course.

Above center:  Here's a typical 4WD truck in Australia.  Note the "roo bar" on the front end and the snorkel.

Above right:  Hervey Bay is one of the few American-style, strip development-type cities that I've seen in Australia... and thankfully so.


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Above left:  It's also the jumping-off point for Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island.  I took a day-tour over to Fraser to get a taste of it.

Above center:  Freshwater lake on Fraser Island.

Above right:  Heading out to the beach on Fraser Island.


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Above left:  Cruising on the beach at 50 miles an hour.  Nope, no roundabouts here!

Above center:  You can walk upstream in this freshwater creek and then float all the way down to the beach.

Above right:  A lagoon and beach on Fraser Island.  Fraser Island is like Cumberland Island in Georgia but larger and with lots of cars, and lots of people.  I thought it was just "o.k."



Next News

April 4, 2002  (Coffs Harbour, Australia)



Previous News

March 28, 2002  (Airlie Beach, Australia)

March 25, 2002  (Port Douglas, Australia)

March 16, 2002  (Winton, Australia)

March 13, 2002  (Alice Springs, Australia)

March 11, 2002  (Ayers Rock, Australia)

March 8, 2002  (Coober Pedy, Australia)

March 5, 2002  (Port Augusta, Australia)

March 1, 2002 -- Part 2  (Robe, Australia)

March 1, 2002 -- Part 1  (Robe, Australia)

February 18, 2002  (Bega, Australia)

February 7, 2002  (Auckland, New Zealand)

February 2, 2002 -- Part 2  (Taupo, New Zealand)

February 2, 2002 -- Part 1  (Taupo, New Zealand)

January 25, 2002  (Hokitika, New Zealand)

January 20, 2002  (Geraldine, New Zealand)

January 16, 2002  (Te Anau, New Zealand)

January 12, 2002 -- Part 2  (Dunedin, New Zealand)

January 12, 2002 -- Part 1  (Dunedin, New Zealand)

January 1, 2002 -- Part 2  (Christchurch, New Zealand)

January 1, 2002 -- Part 1  (Christchurch, New Zealand)

December 24, 2001  (Wellington, New Zealand)

December 20, 2001  (Auckland, New Zealand)

December 16, 2001  (Auckland, New Zealand)

December 14, 2001  (Aitutaki, Cook Islands)

December 10, 2001  (Rarotonga, Cook Islands)

December 3, 2001 -- Part 2  (Bellingham, Washington)

December 3, 2001 -- Part 1  (Bellingham, Washington)

October 18, 2001 -- Part 3  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 18, 2001 -- Part 2  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 18, 2001 -- Part 1  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 6, 2001  (Fort Lincoln State Park, North Dakota)

September 30, 2001 -- Part 2  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

September 30, 2001 -- Part 1  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

September 15, 2001  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

August 30, 2001  (Webster, South Dakota)

August 18, 2001  (Watertown South Dakota)

August 17, 2001  (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)

August 14, 2001  (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

August 10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)

August 8, 2001  (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)

August 8, 2001  (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)

August 6, 2001  (Manlius, New York)

July 23, 2001  (Middleton, Massachusetts)

July 22, 2001  (Boston, Massachusetts)

July 20, 2001  (Pomfret, Connecticut)

July 18, 2001  (Denton, Maryland)

July 16, 2001  (Cumberland, Virginia)

July 14, 2001  (Roanoke, Virginia)

July 9, 2001  (Sevierville, Tennessee)

July 8, 2001  (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)

July 5, 2001  (Manchester, Tennessee)

June 30, 2001  (Hohenwald, Tennessee)

June 29, 2001  (Corinth, Mississippi)

June 27, 2001  (Natchez, Mississippi)

June 24, 2001  (Austin, Texas)

June 20, 2001  (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)

June 18, 2001  (Clay Canyon, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 2  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 1  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 14, 2001  (San Diego, California)

June 11, 2001  (San Jose, California)

June 2, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

May 19, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 30, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 19, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

April 5, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)


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